Monday, December 31, 2007
I just returned from a wedding in Austin. While there, I ventured over to the Apple Store in a new development called the Domain, which was written up in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago. Although I was attracted to this mixed used urban environment, I left with a certain discomfort. In his excellent essay in yesterday's Post, Eduardo says: "We may discover that it's not so bad living closer to work, in transit- and pedestrian-friendly, diverse neighborhoods where we run into friends and neighbors as we walk to the store, school or the office."
Although the Domain is a mixed use (office, retail, and housing), pedestrian-friendly place where one could run into friends and neighbors on the street it was strikingly not diverse, at least from a socio-economic standpoint. And, my sense is that many of New Urbanism projects are not socio-economically diverse. An article in USA Today on upscale urban living in Texas said: "As baby boomers became empty nesters, their desire for convenience and fun suddenly merged with those of young professionals. Both groups are flocking to urban settings."
This raises several questions in my mind. Will affluent people want to live in proximity with less affluent people? If not, will the New Urbanism create new types of economic segregation, in some cases even displacing the less affluent to make way for new or refurbished development? Or, will market realities force a socio-economic mixing? Any thoughts?